Getting Off on the Right Foot

How a team plays in its season opener sets the tone for the rest of the year. If they don't perform as expected and are sluggish, it could be a long year. On the other hand, if they are clicking on all cylinders from the outset, they will likely be a team to be reckoned with the rest of the year. In this article, we examine each of the season openers at Boise State since 1968.

In the 38 years that Boise State has been a four-year school, the Broncos became the fastest school in the modern era (since 1910) to win 300 games. Naturally given that success, the opening game of each football season is met with great anticipation. Generally, the Broncos are more than ready for their first opponent, compiling a 26-12 record in season openers to date.

27 of those 38 games have been in the friendly confines of Bronco Stadium, where Boise State has lost just seven times in those 27 season openers. The Broncos are 6-5 in road openers. Boise State is 9-8 against Division I teams in those games.

From Linfield College to the University of Georgia, here are the complete season opening results:


1968--Boise State College Head Coach Tony Knap ushered in the Broncos' competition as a four-year school but it did not go as expected, as Linfield College handed the Broncos a 17-7 loss in Boise--one of just 19 defeats over eight seasons for Knap.

1969--Boise State throttled Central Washington 37-7 in Bronco Stadium. Central Washington failed to get anything going on offense against a stout Bronco "D" led by All-American linebacker Steve Svitak. The '69 Broncos went on to top the Pacific Northwest NAIA in scoring, averaging 38.9 points per game while holding opponents to just 12.5 per contest.

September 13, 1970--The Broncos pounced on Chico State in Bronco Stadium 49-14 in the first game at their new stadium, Bronco Stadium. It was a 14,000-seat stadium at that time and Astroturf was installed for the first time.

1971--Boise State College upended Division I Idaho 42-14 in Bronco Stadium. The Broncos rode the arm of quarterback Eric Guthrie to the tune of 297 yards through the air, while Ross Wright and the Bronco runners piled up 125 yards against the Vandal defense.

1972--Knap and the Broncos humbled UNLV 36-16 in Bronco Stadium.

1973--Boise State collected a 47-24 win over Idaho in Moscow. It was called the "New Idaho Stadium", actually an arena that became the Kibbie Dome when the roof was added two years later. Quarterback Jim McMillan hit Don Hutt with two touchdown passes to lead the Bronco offense as Boise State demolished Idaho 47-24.

1974--Boise State again opened its season on the road and came away victorious over Cal Poly-SLO by a count of 41-21.

1975--The Broncos downed Cal State-Hayward 42-20 in Boise.

1976--Boise State suffered its first season-opening loss in eight years in a 16-9 loss to Idaho in Bronco Stadium, spoiling Coach Jim Criner's Bronco debut. The Vandals took the opening kickoff and ran it all the way back, which proved to be the margin of victory. Fred Goode rushed for 146 yards for Boise State, but the Broncos could not take advantage of red zone opportunities.

1977--The Broncos went to Ogden for their '77 season opener and won 19-9 over Weber State in a Big Sky Conference game.

1978--Boise State thumped Division I-A Cal State-Fullerton 42-12.

1979--Division I-AA Boise State suffered a heartbreaking 9-7 loss to Division I-A Long Beach State, one of only three schools in the nation that own a series advantage over the Broncos (Minimum 2 games played). The loss to Long Beach would be their only loss of the season.

1980--Boise State scored a convincing 28-7 win in Salt Lake City against Division I-A Utah. Terry Zahner rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns while Dan Williams made 15 stops on defense against the Utes.

1981--The Broncos came out winners against Northwestern State 32-20. Northwestern quarterback Bobby Hebert may have gone on to star for the New Orleans Saints in the NFL, but he was no match for Boise State, as the quick Bronco secondary picked off five Hebert passes.

1982--Boise State opened the '82 campaign with a 20-9 win over Division I-A Cal State-Fullerton.

1983--Boise State lost to Cal State-Fullerton 13-10 in Coach Criner's final year as head man of the Broncos.

1984--Once again, the Broncos lost their season opener to Fullerton, 27-25.

1985--Boise State lost a tough one at Utah, 20-17. A last minute Ute field goal propelled Utah to the narrow win.

1986--Boise State opened the season with a 21-19 loss on the road to Eastern Washington. It was a long year in what proved to be Coach Lyle Setencich's final season.

1987--After a four-game season opening drought, the Broncos returned to their winning ways with a 34-13 decision over Delaware State.

1988--Boise State scored a 29-10 win over Division I-A Long Beach State in Bronco Stadium.

1989--Boise State defeated Stephen F. Austin State 23-13 in Bronco Stadium. Junior college transfer Mike Virden and Duane Halliday combined to throw for 409 yards to get the Broncos off to a good start in '89. The loss for Stephen F. Austin will be their only one until the I-AA national championship game in December.

1990--The Broncos once again downed Stephen F. Austin 14-10 in Boise.

1991--Boise State pounded Liberty University 35-14 in Bronco Stadium.

1992. The '92 season opener did not go well, as the Broncos lost 35-20 to Tennessee-Chattanooga in Boise.

1993--The Broncos whipped Rhode Island 31-10 at home.

1994--Boise State collected a 36-26 decision over Northeastern.

1995--Boise State came out of the gate in impressive fashion, downing Utah State on the road 38-14.

1996--The beginning of a tough year saw Boise State fall to Central Michigan 42-21 in Bronco Stadium. The teams were knotted 14-14 at halftime but the Bronco secondary allowed two long passes for touchdowns and could not protect quarterback Tony Hilde (6 sacks). When he wasn't running for his life, Hilde was able to complete 23 of 34 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns. Ryan Ikebe hauled in eight of those passes for 131 yards and two of the TD's.

1997--The Broncos lost on the field to Cal State-Northridge 63-23, who was later found guilty of an NCAA infraction, causing them to forfeit. Boise State jumped out to a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter but then the roof fell in. (you all did know there used to be a roof on Bronco Stadium, right?--jk) Northridge quarterback Flowers had an amazing day, completing 31 of 40 passes for 442 yards and six touchdowns. That pretty much sums it up!

1998--Boise State defeated Northridge 26-13 in the season opener in Bronco Stadium. Bart Hendricks threw touchdown passes of 27 yards to Rodney Smith and 79 yards to Corey Nelson and the Bronco defense came up with five sacks to get the win.

1999--Boise State lost to UCLA 38-7 in Los Angeles. It was a game in which Boise State outran the Bruins (156 to 153), controlled the clock (31:11 to 28:49), earned more first downs (21 to 19) and had the same number of turnovers (4 each). The difference in the game was that the Bronco turnovers cost them dearly. Two Bronco turnovers occurred in their own territory, which UCLA quickly capitalized on. Another resulted in a 53-yard interception return for a touchdown. Davey Malaythong ran for 103 yards on the game and a Bryan Harsin touchdown strike gave Boise State their only score.

2000--The Broncos turned back New Mexico of the Mountain West Conference 31-14 on the road. Bart Hendricks accounted for 266 yards of total offense and two touchdowns as Boise State spoiled New Mexico's home opener. Hendricks rushed for 98 yards on 19 carries including a 34-yard touchdown run for the game's first score. Shaunard Harts also scored on a 34-yard interception return for the Broncos. Jarrod Baxter ran for 99 yards on 15 carries for the Lobos.

2001--Boise State lost to #22 South Carolina of the Southeastern Conference 32-13 on the road. As Bronco kicker Nick Calaycay lined up for a 22-yard field goal at the end of the second half with South Carolina ahead 13-7, the Gamecocks blocked it and Rashad Faison returned it 82 yards for a touchdown. It was a dramatic shift to a tight first half and South Carolina rode that momentum to the win.

2002--Boise State beat Idaho 38-21 to open the "Leave No Doubt" year. David Mikell scored three touchdowns and Brock Forsey added two as the Bronco ground game (233 yards rushing) was too much for Idaho. Bronco quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie was 18 of 23 for 259 yards.

2003--Coach Dan Hawkins' team whipped Idaho State 62-0 in the only season opening shutout in Bronco history. The Bronco defense held ISU to six yards rushing and 152 total in the rout. David Mikell led a balanced rushing attack with 99 yards and two touchdowns.

2004--Boise State toppled Idaho 65-7 in Bronco Stadium. The Broncos held Idaho to just 212 yards of total offense while quarterback Jared Zabransky was 11 of 16 passing and scored three touchdowns on the ground.

2005--Georgia knocked off the Broncos 48-13 in Athens. Bulldog quarterback D.J. Shockley passed for 289 yards and ran for 85 more as the Bronco defense could not stop Georgia in the red zone. Boise State committed six first-half turnovers, which the Bulldogs took full advantage of in rolling to a 24-0 halftime lead.

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